“Sheet masks are like fast food.” ~ Paris B
I’m not sure how this statement I’m making is going to be perceived, so it’ll be interesting to know your take, as it is a statement I’ve found myself making more often recently.
I’m not trying to be deliberately provocative, nor am I slamming the use of sheet masks. Quite many years ago, I wrote about why I or you might want to use a sheet mask (before the explosion of Korean brand masks hit the market), and much of what I wrote 7 years ago still holds true today.
I was using sheet masks from way back, when the market was primarily dominated by Japanese and Taiwanese brands.
Today, you can’t move for the availability of affordable and easy to find sheet mask brands, many of which I notice are made popular by Korean brands.
Anyone who talks about K-beauty will inevitably talk about the sheet masks they use, how often they use them and how lovely they are. When I visited Seoul quite many years ago, my luggage when I returned, was filled with sheet masks from different brands because they were so affordable to buy in bulk. I could have set up shop, if I had been more enterprising LOL!
Yet over the years, I’ve found myself using sheet masks less and less. I’m not sure that I ever finished my Korean stash; and the primary reason why I’m no longer into using sheet masks is the same reason I try to cook my own food when I can – sheet masks feel too much like fast food.
Fast food is not real food
I’m not saying that sheet masks are a bad thing. Like fast food, sometimes, we want that burger or fried chicken and fries fix. It fills us up when we’re hungry, it’s quick and it’s usually quite affordable. Quite, depending on where you live naturally.
Yet, fast food has its down sides as well, as we are all reminded now and again. Eat too much, and all that oil and salt will eventually kill you, or if it doesn’t, you’d just get fat 😛
I view sheet masks the same way.
Like fast food, sheet masks are convenient
Like fast food (think McDonald’s or KFC and the like), sheet masks are convenient and give your skin that much needed boost of hydration very quickly, the same way a McValue meal fills you up quickly.
Sheet masks usually come individually packed, and this makes them portable. That’s true of a burger and fries from a drive-in as well. You can easily carry a pack everywhere you go, and dispose of it when you’re done without any mess or fuss.
Sheet masks are easy to pop on the skin, and you don’t usually have to wash your face after that. So, you can follow up with your skincare routine quite easily thereafter.
Sheet masks – an environmental nightmare
But have you thought about how the packaging contributes to the landfill problem the world is facing?
I’m not your greenest person alive, and I honestly did not think about this, until I chanced upon a comment on a random website one day. It got me thinking about the single-use nature of the sheet masks, the packaging it comes in (sometimes packed with extra sheets to make it easier to fold or unfold) and the foil.
If you use a week’s worth of sheet masks, I think you’d notice quite quickly that your bin will soon overflow.
Fast food fills you up with empty calories – could that be true of sheet masks?
We know by now that the nutrition value of a fast food value meal rarely matches up to a proper “whole foods” meal, or slow-food as some people have called it. Fast food tends to be battered, fried and contain high levels of sodium and/or sugar. It fills you up (and often makes for a delicious cheat meal!) but often, it’s empty calories.
For me, sheet masks are the same. When I put on a sheet mask, it gives me that momentary pleasure. A delicious cooling down of the skin, and the sensation of a boost of hydration to the skin. I might even see a glow from within.
But it doesn’t last.
By the next morning, my skin is back to its normal self. It makes me wonder if I’m just seeing some placebo effect. Perhaps it’s the cooling down of my skin that’s giving me the glow? I don’t know.
I read often of people who use a sheet mask daily because they say it gives you the best effect. I’ve tried it. Use a sheet mask for 7 days in a row, and your skin does feel noticeably softer and more hydrated. Stop for a few days, and it all goes back to normal.
Fast food doesn’t use quality ingredients – could that also be true of sheet masks?
Now, we know that when a fast food burger claims to be “100% cow” they aren’t kidding 😛 Your nuggets aren’t made from 100% chicken and your burger patties are not 100% beef. You’re ingesting food that satisfies temporarily, without any long-term benefits.
So, is the same true of sheet masks?
If I’m so particular about the rest of my skincare, why am I putting a cheap face mask on my skin from a brand that I’d not otherwise use?
I’m not saying here that sheet mask brands use inferior or sub-standard ingredients. What I’m saying here is that I’m very particular about the rest of the skincare that goes on my skin, as most of you well know.
Yet, when it comes to a sheet mask, I’m comfortable closing one eye and just putting it on, without checking the ingredient list. Do you?
Or I might even use a sheet mask from a brand I’d never heard of or would never otherwise use, simply because it’s “just a sheet mask”.
I came across an article not long ago about the unsanitary conditions under which sheet masks were packaged. You don’t think they’re folded by machines do you?
Yet, the same people who might rail at moisturisers and creams being sold in tubs, will happily tear open a foil pack and slap on a sheet mask with no qualms. Does that foil pack lull us into a sense of complacency or give the impression that sheet masks are more hygienic than they really are? Note: Also read this comment by reader Jun Ni. I SHUDDER!
Fast food works out more expensive in the long run and so does using sheet masks
If you were to eat fast food every single day, you will quickly find that it all starts to add up and hurt your wallet quite soon. Not to mention what it’ll do to your waistline and heart!
When I was a kid, fast food was the occasional treat for birthdays or as a reward for doing well in exams. What can I say? I come from a small town and we took our indulgences where we could 🙂
Have you worked out how much your sheet mask habit costs you in the long run?
As I’ve mentioned above, I find the results from using sheet masks quite temporary. So, they’re great if I want to put a good face forward, quickly.
Sheet masks are good for a quick fix
If I’m travelling, a cooling sheet mask quickly rejuvenates me and my skin and makes me look better quickly. If I have a formal dinner to attend, slapping on a sheet mask a couple of hours before that plumps up my skin and makes me look better. But if I want a result that lasts, I go back to a proper mask that comes in a tub or tube.
I know some people say that you should use a sheet mask only 1-2 times a week, but let’s be honest. If that’s the case, why are there people making out a case for using a sheet mask EVERY SINGLE DAY as part of their skincare routine? Japanese and Korean skincare is at this level, and the Japanese even have packs of masks for 7-14 days in a row.
Wash off or leave on face masks deliver better and more lasting results
I have found, from a few years of experimenting, that the results from a proper wash off face mask or even a sleeping mask, delivers far better and more lasting results than a sheet mask.
With a facial mask, I can have the results last me up to a week or 3-4 days after that, before I need to do a mask again. If I go for a proper facial (my favourite is the La Mer one because the facial massages are second to none!) the results can last me up to 10 days sometimes, but at least 2-3 days.
Yet, many of us balk at paying for a tub or tube of a proper facial mask. That tub could last months, with the occasional weekly or twice weekly use (be generous and do a facial mask more often!) and you could yet many uses out of it. Yet, we balk – I’m just as guilty as you are!
But we’re happy to pay RM6 and up for a one-time sheet mask, because it’s “cheaper” (note: I don’t know how much sheet masks costs individually anymore sorry!). Yet, if you were to take the results into consideration, you’d have to end up using more sheet masks, more often, to achieve the same results you’d get from a RM150 tub of face mask, that can last you over 20-25 uses over a longer period of time.
By way of further example, I have found that the new cellulose or gel type sheet masks are better in terms of product delivery to the skin and I do experience better and longer lasting results using these masks. But cellulose and gel masks are expensive when compared to your basic paper masks. You couldn’t keep up a regular habit of using a gel mask that starts from RM10 each and can go up all the way to RM30 each. Yet people do.
Speaking personally, I hardly use sheet masks anymore as a treatment. For me, they are now more of a convenient treat to cool my skin or for that quick hydration hit. Just like fast food. Sometimes, I crave that sodium hit from fried chicken and french fries. I indulge. But most days, I eat whole foods wherever I can. And I’m applying that to my masking routines.
RELATED READING: I tried masking for 30 days straight and here’s what I noticed – READ HERE
Do you use a sheet mask regularly? Do you prefer sheet masks to tub or tube wash off masks?
For the most part now, I use masks from tubes and tubs about twice a week, but at least once a week. I double mask or triple mask, depending on how much time I have. I find that the results last longer. For example, I might go at it with a mud or detox mask first, then follow up with a hydration mask or a revitalizing sleeping mask left on overnight. I do still sometimes indulge in a sheet mask, but like fast food, it’s an exception, not the norm. Food for thought maybe? Let me know what you think 😉
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I know how sheet masks are produced and what they add on to make it lasts longer, thanks to my friend. This is many years ago. I still use sheet mask every now and then on lazy days and/or sometimes when I’m travelling. It looks travel friendly but in terms of weight, it can be heavy too if you bring more. Now, I bring the ones in tube and tub when I travel. I can’t decide which to bring, so I pack all, lol.
You have to get the right sheet mask in order to reap the claimed goodness. I’ve tried various and found the one. The effect lasts for few days. Pricey but worth the $$$. With tube / tub kind of mask, I love La Mer Intensive Revitalising Mask. Beautiful skin the next day. Love their facial too. OMG. My skin glows for more than a week, and my beloved commented that it’s better than slapping on xx of skincare products on my face. Haha. I love Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalising Mask too. Biotherm has good masks, but the ones I really like has been discontinued.
Paris B says
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using them now and then. I do too for a quick treat. However, I do think the recent obsession by many to use and hoard sheet masks warranted a cautionary word. I’ve read tha tmany people love the La Mer Intensive Revitalizing Mask. I’m one of those who just look at myself after using it and go Meh! LOL! Just not working for me for some reason!
Huh interesting. Never thought of it that way. I’ve minimised my use of sheet masks mainly because I prefer to use wash off masks. When I used the sheet masks regularly before, I did notice my skin looking more supple and hydrated, but I always layer with serum and moisturizer and oil after. I guess applying a few layers of essence might be the same, I don’t know. I recently read about the 7 skin method which I find interesting, but eh, too much work. Apparently there is a 3 skin method as well, and that might be more workable.
Either way, food for thought for sure. Trust you to come up with this discussion topic 🙂
Paris B says
I tested out a version of the 7 skin method, using about 3 layers of toner/essence thing. It did make my skin feel soft and more hydrated. But, it also broke me out and made my skin irritated. While they say you can use any hydrating lotion or essence, I’d exercise caution. I do sometimes sandwich my lotion/essence between 2 spritzes of mist. It helps with hydration too. And yeah, I guess I’m just the controversial sort 😉
Wow, I feel sheepish about my sheet mask haul!
Like you, I especially love them for travel. On my flights to and from Asia, I shamelessly plunked them on during my flights. They’re great for that, but now I’m rethinking their ongoing use. You make a good point about their cost per unit vs quality creams, masks, etc.
I’m curious if you’ve looked into the mask dry capsules that you soak with your own serum. I picked some up at miniso while in Malaysia but haven’t tried them out yet 🙂
Paris B says
LOL Don’t be! At least you got them fairly affordably vs what you’d otherwise pay! 🙂 I think they are great, for a quick fix and just to kind of force you to lie down and relax, as you can’t really do anything else while wearing a sheet mask. I just didn’t think that we should be making them into something bigger than what they really are, the way K-beauty enthusiasts do. I have tried some of those dry capsule paper masks. But I don’t really buy into them, because you have to use quite a lot of product to soak the mask, if you don’t want it to dry out within 2 seconds. But it’s always an option, if you want to finish up a lotion or essence that’s otherwise lying around.
Thoughtful and interesting post as always, Paris 🙂 I think I’ve used sheet mask once or twice long time ago but it was so messy that I gave up after that. I’m currently using some organic brands such as Mahalo and Josh Rosebrook cocoa based masks which have stellar ingredients and safe-you-can-almost-eat-it. Haha. Speaking of K-beauty, I’ve noticed that there are soooo many brands now and some with unconventional (or should I say weird?) ingredients but now that I’ve read the article I’m quite apprehensive about trying any K-beauty products. That being said, I do have SUM37 cleansing stick which I love but that’s about it I guess.
Paris B says
Glad you enjoyed it Zita 🙂 It’s interesting that you brought up Mahalo and Josh Rosebrook, because I’ve been seeing them all over Instagram and damn, I want them! LOL But I haven’t yet found a site that ships internationally, so I’m still looking! I do like the SUM37 cleansing stick too! So convenient. And yeah the Koreans popularized the snail mucus, bee venom and horse oil (3 weird ingredients I know of so far) but I’m not sold 😛
Wawa Azelan says
Thanks a lot for this useful article, I myself though a collector of sheet masks and guilty of buying super expensive EL mask, rarely use them..hehehe..
I hate the wet and dripping part of the face mask so that is why I hardly use them.
I am always on the lookout for a good sleeping mask since laneige one kind of broke me out. I have always want to buy the Sulwhasoo Overnight mask but afraid that it will also broke me out.
Anyway, good article, always.
Paris B says
I’m glad you found this useful Wawa 🙂 I know how you feel about expensive masks. You want to save them for a special day and then you either forget about them, or that special day never arrives LOL! I find that with sheet masks, I have to stay pretty still, so watching TV helps. I haven’t found many good sleeping masks, so I sometimes use an oil these days – just mist, oil and go to sleep 🙂 I’ll blog about it soon.
Ah…. The La Mer facial massage ! None can compare. Have not been to any facial that do massage like they do. But Pavilion is just too far plus the parking rate is crazy! I miss the massage…
I’ve stop using sheet mask. Laying down doing nothing from 15mins is a luxury I cannot afford.
Paris B says
I hear you about the Pavilion parking. I spent a few hours there yesterday and paid RM18! I always make sure I watch the clock these days in malls. Don’t even go to KLCC ok. They are even worse! As for the La Mer facial, there’s one at Robinson’s The Gardens too (Parking is MUCH BETTER!) so now there’s 2 places you can go to 🙂
Mid Valley and The Gardens are my playground. I go there for my me-time when I needed it >.^
As for La Mer facial at the Gardens, have you gone for a facial there this year ? For me, I would give the new therapist some more time to practise before I’m willing to pay with my hard earned money. It really is a regret that I cannot follow the previous therapist to Pavilion, sob sob sob…
Paris B says
Hmm ok that’s very interesting. I actually haven’t tried the Gardens facialist yet, because I only found out recently about the move. Tells you how long ago I haven’t been there! LOL You know what? Tell me more about it when I see you, and I’ll feed it back coz I love the one who’s moved to Pavilion too! 😀
Since you haven’t replied to the last comments I’ll give my little opinion:
I’ve never thought about sheet masks as fast food but I was never truly attracted to them because I always considered them too expensive.
I think that also the fact that I don’t truly believe in masking, is another point against them. I’m quite incredulous about putting a product for around 10-20 minutes and get a flash effect instead of using a product everyday and getting long lasting results.
So until I buy a good mask and get convinced that it helps my skin I can’t say that I think masking is a good idea (and that fact of the lack of sanitary measurements make me steer away from sheet masks).
Paris B says
Aww you didn’t have to wait for me to reply to jump in Efrain! 😀 But thank you for sharing your 2 cents re: masks. I actually get where you’re coming from with regards the actual efficacy of using a face mask. That said, I do find that for things like clearing our the skin or in trying to reduce and eradicate a spot, a mask works better for me than a treatment, because I don’t get breakouts often. Also, I do find that regular use of masks help my skin remain softer and more hydrated for longer and less dehydrated. So, I think it depends what you look for in a face mask. Some are just the same things in your regular skincare, some are more potent. Some are useful for that quick boost, when you need it. Doesn’t work for everyone 🙂
Personally, I love sheet masks and use them about twice a week.
I am a skin care addict. Actives (AHA’s, vitamin C, retinoids), which in the long run improve the structure of the skin, have top priority.
But hydration is really important and sheet masks give the skin a much-needed boost. If it’s mainly about hydration, the quality of the sheet mask is not so crucial. Even a cheap sheet mask will do that.
I use bulk packages of sheet masks or the dry little capsule sheet masks (available at Muji) in order to reduce rubbish.
Paris B says
Nothing against sheet masks Maja, just perhaps not so crazy about the way they’re being pushed as THE THING for your skin 😀 I do agree with you that they do wonders for adding skin hydration, and I find them relaxing if it’s been a hot day, or if I’ve been travelling. I still use them, but I don’t make them a part of my routine 🙂